SANAA (AFP) – Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh said Sunday he is determined to fight Al-Qaeda, which has become increasingly active in his country, in a speech marking the anniversary of the 1962 revolution.
“We are committed to the war on terror… which has harmed our economy, the reputation of our religion and country,” Saleh said in the speech, which was published by state news agency Saba.
“Al-Qaeda elements… have attacked the interests of our people and our homeland… hindered the development and affected tourism and investment in our country,” said Saleh.
“We have no choice but to face their danger and overcome it by all means,” he added.
Sunday marks the anniversary of the 26 September, 1962 revolution which brought down the imamate, a form of clerical rule, and which saw Yemen proclaimed a republic.
Yemen, the ancestral homeland of Osama bin Laden, has witnessed an upsurge of activity by his network’s local branch, known as Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), in past months.
The Islamist militants have claimed responsibility for a series of deadly attacks, including in Loder at the end of August, when three days of intense fighting with the security forces killed at least 33 people.
More recently, Yemeni soldiers regained control of the southern city of Huta on Friday after it had been taken over by Al-Qaeda militants on September 18, officials said.
The military’s reported advances in the south were followed by a setback in Sanaa, however, when two unidentified gunmen ambushed a bus taking intelligence agents to work at dawn on Saturday, injuring 10 of them.
Britain warned on Friday of “massive dangers” to world security should Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country and increasingly an Al-Qaeda stronghold, become a failed state.
The situation was described as “a very potent cocktail for danger” by Britain’s international development minister Alan Duncan, speaking in New York at the latest meeting of international support group the Friends of Yemen.
Sanaa has intensified its operations against Al-Qaeda since AQAP claimed responsibility for a botched attack on US-bound airliner on Christmas Day last year.